V8 Swap Candidate? 1974 Ford Pinto

Chopping up a survivor for non-stock modifications always seems a tad sacrilegious, but since this clean 1974 Ford Pinto wagon is already wearing Fox-body wheels and has a manual gearbox, it’s way too temping to shove a 5.0L under the hood. The Pinto is originally from New Mexico and nearly rust-free and is said to run well aside from some crunchiness in the gearbox. Find it here on eBay with bidding to $2,850 and the reserve unmet.

The bodywork looks like only a car from a desert climate can look, with no signs of body rot or previously repaired panels. The paint is even and shut lines look good, and the only alteration from stock is the addition of the familiar polished LX wheels. Muted lime green paint is a totally period-correct color, and personally, makes me want to see this one restomodded even more than I already did. I’m not sure I’d keep the wheels, but I don’t hate them, either.

The interior doesn’t need much, aside from the driver’s seat. This is surprising, considering those dry climates and their perfect sheet metal usually come at the expense of completely sun-trashed interiors. Fortunately, that’s not the case here, as the passenger seat and rear bench are both in usable condition. There is a crack in the dash which will be difficult to repair other than replacing the entire assembly, but the next owner will likely live with it for the time being. Love seeing the manual in the console.

The seller notes he has only driven the Pinto in a parking lot, likely right onto a trailer, and has no real insights into how healthy the factory four-cylinder is. He notes the transmission does occasionally grind going into gear, so there are more than a few reasons to perform a proper teardown and rebuild, or simply gut the existing drivetrain and make this sleepy Pinto wagon into a bit of an unsuspecting performance car. Would you keep it stock or pursue the swap?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    As I commented before another option would be to use a turbo 2.3 and would be easy given you are already set up for one. You would need to fabricate plumbing for the intercooler and wiring for the EFI. With the right tuning you could be traveling at ludicrous speeds and seeing plaid in no time!

    Like 18
  2. Stangalang

    I’m with alpha there’s still plenty of turbo 4cyl out there all you got to do is search em out..and they fit right in. Just make sure frame and such is braced really well before you turn up the boost. Stock rear won’t handle much abuse either. Oorrr just leave it bone stock

    Like 5
    • bone

      A buddy of mine raced a Pinto in a “stock” class eduro . He couldn’t find any decent gearing for it, so he swapped in a Mustang ll rear in it which bolted right in, but had better gear choices.

      Like 3
  3. KEVIN

    I never realized that a Pinto and a Fox Body share the same wheel bolt pattern until today. Looks to me that the interior is toasted

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      It’s should be the same for all domestic 4 and 6 cylinder equipped Ford cars with 4 lug bolt pattern dating back to the 1960’s.

      Steve R

      Like 5
      • David Skinner

        Nope- Mustang and Falcon sixes used a 4 X 4.5″ bolt pattern, while Pintos, Mustang IIs and (most) Fox bodies used a 4 X 4.25″ bolt pattern.

        Like 6
      • Bunky

        The old 4 lug Falcons and such were 4 on
        4 1/2” pattern, Pinto and Fox body are 4 on 4 1/4”. Also wheel profile is different on disc brake vs. drum brake applications.

  4. 370zpp

    My friend had one like this new back in 74 in Upstate NY. For some odd reason it came equipped with AC and my friend repeatedly delighted in showing us all how well it worked – in January.

    This car has many possibilities but that should definitely include addressing the “crunchiness in the gearbox”.

    Like 2
  5. David Mika

    Mmmm…crunchy gearbox…

    Like 3
  6. Shawn Fox Firth

    How bout the new 7.3 gas job ? and some fat Mickey Thompsons out back .. .

    Like 3
  7. JOHN Member

    Turbo 2.3 and replace the ugly as all get out bumpers with 71-72 units and have a blast!

    Like 3
    • chuck

      Ford was the worst when it came to the 5 mph bumpers. Looks like they just stuck a piece of guardrail on it.

      Like 1
  8. Miguel

    The transmission is easy to get out.

    I had to do it on a few of them I had.

    If I can do it, anybody can.

    Also, I would leave the bumpers as they are.,

    It is cheaper to rub off a scuff than to replace the rear door when somebody taps your rear.

    Like 2
  9. Daleone3

    All I see when I see one of these is a carload of Nazi’s careening off a bridge circa Blues Brothers……

    Like 3
  10. DON

    You could get a Pinto with a V6 , so that could be another option – if you could find one

  11. Philip Lepel

    I’m with the majority here.newer 2.3 doc turbo engines can be had for under $3k. Drop one in with the 6 speed tranny and leave the big bumpers for that sleeper effect then go hunting Camaros.

    Like 2
  12. George Morrison

    I’ve always wanted to stuff a nice DeTomoso Panatera 351 and running gear suspension etc…… nice sleeper

  13. FrankJB

    We bought a brand new Brown w/tan interior 74 Pinto wagon for $3585. AMFM, slotted factory mag wheels, 4 spd. Perfect car for two with a baby on the way. My wife and I still talk about that car…good times!

    Like 2
    • JudoJohn

      The Pinto got a bad, but undeserved rap. I remember driving the wagon, a 4-speed, and it was a good car. It was better than the Vega, its main rival. However, for a basic economy car of that era, it was good.

      Like 1
  14. Bill

    Had a ‘75 that was as much fun to drive as my TR3.

    Like 1
  15. Doug

    The “crunchy” gearbox may be due to needing to adjust the clutch. I don’t know if these use a cable, hydraulic, or mechanical linkage, but all can be adjusted. Cables sometimes stretch over time, and hydraulics may have a bypassing master or slave cylinder. Usually,if the cylinders seem to be working properly, an adjustment can be made between the pedal and the master cylinder, or at the slave cylinder. Mechanicals may have worn bushings and rods. Sometimes this can be remedied by a simple adjustment and / or replacing worn bushings. I would definitely look at clutch adjustment before removing the trans.

  16. chrlsful

    nice motor (lima) & the 32/36 Weber progressive on top; auto ina sm waggy? It all equals a right sized daily for me..

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